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May 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM

It’s official: ‘Echo’ joins the sculpture park

Artist Jaume Plensa, at the dedication of his sculpture "Echo."/Michael Upchurch photo

Artist Jaume Plensa, at the dedication of his sculpture “Echo.”/Michael Upchurch photo

This is from Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer. (He got to the Olympic Sculpture Park justin time for the “Echo” ribbon-cutting Thursday morning, unlike a representative from ArtsPage HQ, who was stuck on I-5.)

Barcelona sculptor Jaume Plensa was in Seattle today for the ribbon-cutting of his luminous piece, “Echo,” at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

The 46-foot-high head was donated to the Seattle Art Museum and the park by SAM trustee Barney Ebsworth. Ebsworth and SAM officials were on hand for the dedication of “Echo,” as was Mayor Ed Murray, who addressed the artist directly, saying, “This is an incredible piece of work. You …. have given some of your soul to the soul of the city of Seattle.”

Plensa’s own remarks noted “this strange relationship between me and water.” Though he lives on the Mediterranean and has created public artworks near large bodies of water (Chicago, Rio de Janeiro), he has never learned to swim.

Still, he said, it made him happy “to see again one of my pieces facing the sea. I’ve said many times that probably the sea is the main public space, because it’s not something that could keep people separated. It’s even the opposite. I guess it’s a tremendous link between continents and people. This water that is in front of us today, maybe was in Barcelona yesterday. Who knows?”

He added, “I’m extremely proud to leave the piece over here in Seattle. The piece is not anymore mine – it’s yours. I hope you will love the piece as I loved the piece for many years.”

In a short interview following the ceremony, he expanded his remarks: “I chose the place facing toward Mount Olympus, because I guess it was a terrific coincidence. My project was thinking about Echo in the old tradition of Greek mythology. And you have the Olympic Park and Mount Olympus. … Sometimes life is so funny that you have these strange coincidences. I guess that this is here because it was a destiny, finally.”

While he’s delighted that Echo looks out onto an extraordinary mountain and water view, he adds that, with her eyes closed and in a state of mediation, “she’s completely concentrating in herself. And I’m doing that too, passing information to the community that we have some beautiful things inside ourselves that we have to take care about. The landscape is beautiful, obviously. But the things that we keep inside are extraordinary, and we have to close our eyes many times and to think about ourselves, the interior part. … That is also an amazing landscape we have to discover.”

Even Seattle’s morning cloud cover didn’t bother him: “For a sculpture, that kind of light is the perfect light. I know it’s not as beautiful as a sunny day. But when the light is silver with shadow, that’s perfect. I’m very pleased today. “

Comments | More in Arts news | Topics: Echo, Jaume Plensa, Olympic Sculpture Park

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